If you’ve never watched HBO’s hit drama Succession, your friends have almost certainly told you to.
Since its first season premiered in 2018, Succession has built an immense fan base, with millions of eager viewers watching from around the world.
The premise is simple: Logan Roy, a multi-billionaire titan of the media industry, turns 80. His children, Conor, Kendall, Shiv, and Roman, are all vying to replace him in the top job: CEO of Waystar RoyCo, the family’s sprawling company that boasts a portfolio of news outlets, theme parks, and cruise ships.
The show has been described as having Shakespearean undertones – King Lear meets helicopters, skyscrapers, and board meetings – revealing the often-brutal underbelly of life in business.
In your business, Succession‘s animated and ferocious environment may not be relatable to you. But its central figure, Logan, loosely based on real-life media mogul Rupert Murdoch, could teach you valuable lessons about what to do – and, more importantly, what not to do – when you manage a successful company.
Here are three things Logan Roy from HBO’s Succession can teach you about running your business.
1. Running your company on a culture of fear can only go so far
One of Logan Roy’s infamous traits is his ability to intimidate others. He runs Waystar RoyCo with a culture of fear, inspiring terror in all his employees, including his own children.
Logan’s fearsome presence results in employees, including his son-in-law Tom, unwillingly complying in cover-ups of extreme misconduct at Waystar RoyCo.
Succession gets one crucial thing right: Logan, in all his evil, wins most of his ugly fights. He keeps himself safe from legal ramifications and throws everyone else under the bus.
However, he is also one of the loneliest people in the world. Nobody trusts him, and he can’t trust anybody – not even his own family.
Why does this matter for you as a business owner? Simply put, a culture of fear can only take you and your business so far. In the short term, you might appear to have everyone’s respect and loyalty. Long term, though, you will alienate your employees, having nobody to turn to when things go wrong.
Ultimately, a suffering workforce who are afraid to speak up are unlikely to further your business, financially or culturally. Additionally, the potential for lawsuits when it comes to bullying and other misconduct is huge.
A culture of respect and openness with your employees may be a better way. If you would like to improve your business’ culture, your financial planner can help you figure out your next steps. We can counsel you to become more transparent with your employees, giving you the confidence you need to lead with integrity.
2. Being “woke” might make you cringe, but it could propel your business to further success
Logan Roy is renowned for doing things the old way. Hard-headed and cold, he does not suffer fools, and won’t stand for what he considers to be a “soft” business style.
In the show’s latest season, Logan is seen as behind the times, described as an “old man”. He even loses out on a major buyout deal due to a younger CEO being spooked by his outdated point of view, and his seeming inability to pass on power to his children.
When it comes to your company, the bottom line is that forward-thinking business ethics can go a long way.
What’s more, ESG investing is becoming more lucrative by the minute, according to Reuters, who report that investors who prioritised sustainability and ethics saw a “bumper year” in 2021.
Unlike Logan Roy, you know that your company, and its management, need to move with the times. If you want to tilt your business further towards sustainable and ethical practices, your financial planner can provide valuable insights into taking this step.
3. If you want your business to survive beyond you, you need to take your ego out of the equation
Succession planning is a crucial part of being a business owner. No matter your age, knowing who would take on your business in the event of your passing away, and preparing them for it, is absolutely crucial.
A show that is aptly named Succession hits the ground running when it comes to this issue. When Logan suffers a stroke in the show’s opening episode, his family and senior employees of Waystar RoyCo scramble to decide who might take over if he passes away.
Logan has not prepared anyone for this eventuality; there are no clear instructions in place, and his son is left to deal with creditors who are threatening to “pull the plug” after discovering the company is $3 billion in debt. The company is a sinking ship, and nobody can save it except the man lying in a hospital bed.
The reason for this is simple: Logan believes he is the only person who can successfully manage Waystar RoyCo and has failed to elect a successor in time.
This act of egoism is a lesson in exactly what not to do as a business owner. You need to have a clear pathway laid out for when you pass away, or decide to retire from the business, and involve the relevant parties in these decisions.
If you are yet to lay out succession plans for your business, we can help. Working with a planner can ensure you have taken the necessary steps to secure your business, in the unfortunate event of you becoming unable to continue running the company.
Get in touch
Good financial planning can transform the way you think about your life and your future. If you want to help your company survive in an ever-changing world, get in touch today.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0121 313 1370.
The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.